Are you experiencing pain, torment, and unforgiveness for yourself or others, Christian, for reasons that are known or unknown? Are you looking back at the past with regrets, reliving them in your mind and wishing you could change things? Are you holding unforgiveness for those who have hurt you at one time?
Have you considered examining how some of the more notable names in the Bible dealt with their past? Did they try and figure out why they did what they did and spend years immersed in unforgiveness for themselves and others, years of pain and suffering? Did they dig up their past and effectively relive it in their minds over and over again? Were they stuck in the past, continuing to walk in unforgiveness for their offenders? What can we learn from those who kept God first?
King David – a Man After God’s Heart
David was under the law and the ensuing penalty of the curse of the law. Those who are trusting Jesus, born again, are under grace and not the curse of the law.
When David’s baby with Bathsheba died, he got up and washed, ate and lived his life forward. He knew he could not bring the child back. Nowhere do we read that David held unforgiveness towards himself and went over the past so he could try and figure out where he went wrong. He did not continually beat himself up, even though he knew his child’s death was due to his sins.
Paul – Apostle to the Gentiles
Paul had Christians imprisoned, tortured and killed as Saul, things that could have weighed heavily on his conscience for the rest of his life. He stated that God had forgiven him because of his ignorance. He also stated that his conscience was clean. Nowhere do we read that Paul dug up the past and tried to figure things out as to why he had done the things he had done. Nowhere do we read that He did beat himself up for them and held unforgiveness for himself.
Later Paul experienced beatings, torture, stoning, imprisonment and several attempts on his life before he was finally killed, for his faith. These are offenses committed against him would seemingly be very hard for anyone to forgive, especially when all he was doing was bringing the good news of the gospel. Yet, Paul does not express anger or resentment in his writings towards those who did these things to him. He expresses concern for the salvation of these lost souls. He knew they were ignorant of the truth as he had once been. He knew how important it was to forgive others for his own sanity.
Paul let go of the past.
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Phil 3:13-14 ESV
Paul focused on higher and loftier things.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Col 3:1-4 ESV
With this focus, Paul discovered the secret to having peace and contentment, even when he was living in horrible prison conditions, awaiting possible execution.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Phil 4:11-13 ESV
Jesus, Ultimate Example - Even After the Worst Possible Treatment
The Bible tells us that Jesus did not trust man, for he knew what was in man – John 2:24-25. What was in man’s flesh, was a fallen sin nature inherited from Adam. This is why Jesus could say, “they know not what they do” and forgive those who arrested him, brought false charges, beat him and put him on the cross laughing and scoffing as He suffered and died.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
Give Yourself and Others a Break – The Truth Sets Us Free
1) We Were All Made Sinners by Adams Disobedience.
Paul taught that all of us, the reader included, inherited a sin nature from Adam – We were made sinners at birth with no choice of our own. Most people are totally unaware of this truth, their nature that leads them to do the wrong thing. The fallen nature that led them to hurt you, loves to judge and does not want you to forgive them or yourself. The nature that leads to death that Jesus saves us from when we are born again in Christ.
For as by the one man’s (Adam) disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s (Jesus) obedience the many will be made righteous. Rom 5:19 ESV
None of us, not you or anyone you are holding unforgiveness towards had the choice to be born without a fallen sin nature. We were all made sinners by nature. The nature of a sinner is to sin. Paul talks in detail about his battle with this nature in Romans 7. He explains how he would do what he did not want to do, that which was contrary to what he knew was right. He also reveals the only way to be free is to be born again under Jesus where we become heirs of eternal life and His nature in the spirit.
2) Those with a Fallen Nature, Judge Others to Justify Themselves.
We all know how to judge. This comes naturally with our fallen nature since we grew up judging others to justify our own smaller sins in our eyes. Born again in Christ, there is no longer any need to try and justify ourselves; God has justified us fully in Christ. We are free from condemnation and judgment, God is not counting our sins, and we are righteous, as right with God the Father as Jesus, by the shed blood of Jesus. What God wants is for us to renew our minds to this truth, to learn that we no longer need to justify ourselves and to learn to show the same grace and forgiveness for others and ourselves that God has shown us. If we let Him, the Holy Spirit leads us to more and more freedom in Christ as He helps us transform from judging others to showing grace and forgiveness as we have been shown.
3) We Are to be Conscious of our Righteousness and No Longer Conscious of Our Sin Debt.
We are no longer supposed to conscious of our sin debt - Heb 10:2. Our past mistakes and those of others. We are to give them to God and let them go forever for our own sake. We are to regard ourselves and others no longer as in the flesh but the spirit.
We are to believe the truth, Jesus took care of our sins fully on the cross. We are to replace our sin consciousness with the consciousness of His righteousness in us.
When I lay down at night, I have a choice to think wrong thoughts or focus on who I am in Christ. If I meditate on my life in a negative light, I lose sleep, get angry, upset, depressed, resentful and sick. Or I can meditate on the truth and think of higher and loftier things like Paul did in prison. I can choose to meditate continually on who I am in Christ and my treasure in heaven and eternal life.
I can forgive myself for my errors and do the next right thing. It was not my choice to be born with a fallen nature bent towards sin. Neither was it the choice of anyone who has hurt me. God has shown me forgiveness and grace, teaching me to do the same to others and myself.Never focus on the problems in your life. Always focus on the solution, your righteousness in Christ. God will make a way even in impossible situations when we do this. And even if things do not go exactly as desired, we will walk in His peace and power in the storm.
4) Lot’s wife, an example of what not to do.
And as they brought them out, one said, “Escape for your life. Do not look back or stop anywhere in the valley. Escape to the hills, lest you be swept away.” Gen 19:17 ESV
Looking back will only continue to keep you stuck. When Lots wife ignored the advice of the angel and looked back to her past, she turned to a pillar of salt, frozen and unmovable.
But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. Gen 19:26 ESV
Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. Luke 17:32-33 ESV
5) God has forgiven you, Christian. Now forgive yourself and others for your own sake. Stop looking back and reliving the past. For once and all, lean heavily on Jesus and let it go, set yourself and others free.
Even God the Father forgets our sins for his own sake.
“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. Isa 43:25 ESV
This is not a command, God has already forgiven you. This is advice from your loving Heavenly Father.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Eph 4:32
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. Luke 23:34
6) Take your eyes completely off your old self and others and focus on who you are in Christ. The old has passed away, let it go. Focus on the truth, the new creation you are in Christ and change your life.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Cor 5:17 ESV
Study this: I Am a New Creation IN CHRIST
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